Several weeks ago I received an email from a high school student in Australia. he was doing an arts project and my name had been given as a possible subject. This was followed by 2 other students in the class with the same request (one emailed me the day before the deadline and the "mom" in me was tempted to teach her a lesson...but I did not!) I thought I would post some of my answers here to share with you...
Who are you? Andrea Graham
Where do you live and work? I live in Odessa, Ontario
(half way between the city of Toronto and our capitol, Ottawa) in Canada. My
studio is here in my home...a cozy part of my basement where I added a window
and sinks and everything I need to do what I do. This space has evolved over the
last 10 years. I began by working at the dining room table.
What do you do in your work/life? I am a “feltmaker”. I
create handmade felt from protein fibres, but consider myself a visual artist. I
also teach often either here in my studio, where people travel to see me or I
travel to them. I also teach by webcam and have taught people from many
countries and remote places around the world. I exhibit in galleries and
museums, mostly by invitation. My favourite work to complete in my medium are
sculptures as there are unique challenges in doing so. In “life”, I am a wife
and a mom to 3 teenaged boys who are always first priority. My travel schedule
happens around their events, whenever possible.
What motivates you? Cold hard cash (Just kidding).
Anyone working in the arts knows it is a labour of love. For me, the need to
create cannot be escaped and with this versatile medium I can make
anything. My students are also lots of fun and I get to travel to cool
places. Not many artists get to fly here and there and get paid to do it. For
this, I am grateful.
What influences or inspires your art? The environment,
gender issues, social injustice. It is my way of speaking out...often with a
sense of humour.
What are your special achievements? There are a few milestones in my arts
career as a self-taught artist with no arts degree. One that stands out is my
artist-in-residence at Queen’s University (very uncommon for this particular
university to give notice to someone without a formal degree/graduate studies).
Another is my first grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Also, being “invited”
to important group shows is pretty sweet. To be recognized as a “artist” by
those I consider my peers was very important. It is less important now and I am
always reaching for new things and setting the bar high. This means rejection
sometimes, but we artists must have a thick skin.
What are you passionate about? Coffee, wine, wool, my
boys, environment, people.
How did you get to where you are now? Lots of silent
doubt, shameless self-promotion, learning from the best at great expense and
travel. Working full time with WOOL for over a decade, observing, feeling,
learning. You must be a smart business person, know how to write and put
yourself out there. If you don’t believe in you, how can you expect others
What do you say about yourself and your work? I let my
work speak for me (and occasionally put together an artists statement that can
tie it all together...the writing part)
Why are you important in the world of textile art? I
think I am important in the world of textile art because I am “out-there”, more
than anything. There are equally talented and hard working textile artist out
there that are not as active in the “business” side, the marketing, the
(shameless) self-promotion. I think I am “important” because I started acting
like I was and I had the hard earned skills to support this. The quality of my
work is number one to me and I think this comes across in my work. I also began
at a time ahead of many others (but much later than some of my mentors) and
demonstrated what could be done with felt to a growing audience.
Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com